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• Living in Relationships
• Gaining Healthy Perspectives
• Practicing Self Care
• Building Values
Living in Relationships• "When We Can't Untangle Ourselves"
• "Springing Back to Life"
• "In The Same Boat"
• "Restoring Power"
• "Don't Try This At Home!"
• The Community of a Peloton
• "Dadisms: Happy Father's Day!"
• "Celebrating With Our Graduates:"
• "You Can't Hurry Love"
• "Making A Great Entrance"
• "The Best Valentine's Gift of All"
• "The Healing Power of Community"
• "Let's Root, Root, Root for the Home Team"
• "The Available Parent"
• "Who Do You Appreciate?"
• "The Love Of A Father"
• "Miracle Workers"
• "Standing In Love"
• "Sitting Together, On Purpose"
• Christmas Love
• "Of Masks and Halloween"
• "Coaching Opportunities"
• "Muscular Love"
• Pay Attention To What You Pay Attention To
• "Learning to Shift"
• "Flood Recovery"
• "Fireworks and Relationships"
• "Emotional Triangles"
• "The Grass is Always Greener....."
• Commencement Exercises
• Response Ability
• "Big Shoes To Fill"
• "Emotional Cutoffs"
• "The Ground Begins to Soften"
• "How Silently, How Silently, the Wondrous Gift is Given"
• "Deploying Our Energy"
• A Reminder to Pay Attention to What We Pay Attention to
• Life itself is the proper binge
• Relationship Math
• Standing in the Need of Prayer
• All In Good Time
• Happy Mothering Day!
• You, Too, Can Be a Superhero
• Moving Well Without the Ball
• I DARE YOU!
• The Rest of the Story
• A New Kind of Stimulus Package
• You Are In Love
• Pilots and Passengers
• Donít Be a Frog When Dealing with Stress
• The Roots of Change
• A Higher Degree of Resolution
• TRICK or TREAT Just for Halloween
• Pay Attention to What You Pay Attention To
April 20, 2010
The Rev. Dr. Scott Stoner
In my work as a Marriage and Family Therapist I sometimes deal with what are known as “emotional cutoffs.” Emotional cutoffs are not the latest summer fashion, but are something that can occurs when conflict between two people--it could be family members, friends or colleagues--has become so volatile that they simply stop talking to each other and hardly even acknowledge that the other exists. The “emotional cutoff” can last for years or decades, and even get passed on from one generation to another.
The tension that leads to such an “emotional cutoff” usually builds for some time, but the final blow that creates the cutoff is usually some incident where one of the parties has finally had it and loses all control of their anger and just “goes off” on the other person. They literally spew years of built up anger and hurt, and in the process create irreparable hurt in the relationship. This spewing is not unlike the recent spewing of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland.
This whole volcano incident is what has me thinking about emotional cutoffs. Like emotional cutoffs, volcano eruptions occur in all different degrees and intensity, as well as the damage they cause. The current volcano eruption in Iceland has paralyzed hundreds of thousands of people, leaving them isolated, alone, unable to connect with loved ones and unable to move from where they are.
The spewing of ashes, like the spewing of emotions, never leads to something positive. Things become much less clear after spewing. I just read an article that said one concern in Iceland right now is that whenever one volcano erupts, the history has been that this often triggers other eruptions of nearby volcanos. How true this can be in relationships as well! Spewing is indeed contagious.
So what are the alternatives? Regarding volcanos, there probably aren’t any--they don’t exactly have the ability to make conscious decisions to do something different. Regarding relationships, there are always other, better options. You and I do have the ability to make conscious decisions about how to express our hurt and anger. Scripture says, “Be angry, but do not sin.” I take this to mean that there is an important difference between the feeling of anger--or hurt (which is almost always hiding under the cover of anger)--and its expression. Feelings are neutral; behaviors--what we do with our feelings--are not.
When you first feel hurt or anger towards someone you care about, make the decision to talk about it with them right away. Avoid self-righteousness and bring it up in a way that respects that they have their own version, their own experience of what has happened. After you have spoken, be prepared to really listen to their side of things. This listening sounds easy in theory, but because most of us dislike conflict and work to avoid it, we often avoid having the conversations we need to have when tension is first felt in a relationship.
I just read the following on a U.S. Geology Service website: “Removing, transporting, and disposing volcanic ash is a dirty, time-consuming, and costly challenge.” I have no experience with cleaning up the fallout of volcanic ash, but I’m sure this information is true. I do have plenty of experience helping people clean up the fallout from “emotional volcanic ash” and I can assure you it is just as dirty, time-consuming and costly. While there is nothing we can do to stop geological volcanoes, we absolutely can--and must--do all that we are able to do to prevent emotional volcanoes in ourselves in those around us. The cost and cleanup are simply far too high.